My life growing up was a bit like The Jerry Springer Show: dramatic, emotional, and self-destructive. While living with my French family for the past six months, I’ve learned many lessons that I will take with me when my husband and I finally break off to live our new lives in France.
1. You Always Have Time To Eat A Meal With Your Family
Growing up, my mother would serve a meal for all of us four kids and herself while my father ate dinner by himself in the bedroom to watch TV. I thought this was how all families operated.
With my French family, it is father in law who makes lunch for us four. We gather together at least once a day for a meal and conversation. Some conversations aren’t as interesting as others, but meals involve a dialogue and the opportunity to connect with the ones we love. No matter how busy life gets, we always have time for one meal and conversation a day with our family.
2. Everyone Deserves Respect And Good Manners
As in all families and social relations, there are always sensitivities over differences in opinion and intentions. Despite differing opinions, people always deserve a minimal level of respect: hello, goodbye, acknowledgment, a handshake, calling others by their formal titles, and all the formal common courtesies we are taught in elementary school. Most importantly, it’s almost never productive to say disrespectful things about a person’s reputation or personal character.
3. Don’t Let Drama Escalate
Sometimes, life gets overwhelming and emotions can run high, but for the sake of relationships and self preservation it’s best to cool off and stop drama where it starts. This takes a lot of self discipline, especially when one feels like exploding to make themselves feel better. However, when one really thinks about it, the reasons to explode do not justify the emotional damage left in the wake.
4. If You Have To Argue: Do So Respectfully
Sometimes, we have to argue to defend ourselves or to stand up for what be believe in. The dialogue can continue, but abruptly stops when one uses hurtful names and bad language. When emotions get high, refer to number three.
5. Be True To Yourself But Don’t Expect Everyone To Agree or Like You
Be yourself and do so in a gracious way, but don’t expect everyone to agree with or like you. Don’t get hung up on it, though, because their differences in opinion reflect their own internal struggles and their relationship with the world.
If you must entertain criticism, do so gracefully and know you can stop listening at any time. You also don’t have to take the opinions of others to heart. The choice to live life truthfully and honestly without the feeling of guilt is yours alone.